Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine
The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin are addressed to the audience by Luke the storyteller as Pharisees and scribes who were complaining about Jesus' life style and his welcoming of tax collectors and sinners. The parables are about God's love and mercy for sinful human beings and of Jesus' steady ministry of engagement with those who did not observe the law, who were sinners. They are about his call for repentance and conversion.
Jesus' call to repentance and conversion was not primarily about religious observance and following the law. It did not exclude that, but that was not the primary focus. His call for conversion was focused on turning our heads around and attending exclusively to God's kingdom, to the characteristics of God's government in the world. That also meant the conversion of the heart and a change of attitudes in regard to various people in the world—particularly those who were despised and condemned by the righteous folk.
The first parable—the parable of the lost sheep—is addressed to people who knew about shepherding, herding and taking care of sheep. Sheep are uniquely stupid animals that have very little brains and are totally dependent on a shepherd to take care of them. When a sheep gets lost, it's a life-and-death matter. They can't save themselves. They can't find their way back. They have very low intelligence, no sense of location. They are nowhere near as smart as dogs. They are really dumb.
So sheep are an excellent metaphor for human beings who frequently have that same character; that is, they get lost and simply have no way of getting back to health, to wholeness. This is particularly true in relation to the epidemic of addiction present in the world now. We stupid humans get addicted to all sorts of things. Alcohol is our number one addiction, but there are also addictions to nicotine and drugs, gambling, sex, food, to all sorts of destructive substances and behaviors. These are addictions that people seem to be powerless to do anything about once they are caught.
To read the rest of this commentary, please visit
Other resources available on GoTell.org
Audio telling of the story, Soundmap, Audio commentary, Original Image -